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Building a B2B WealthTech Company: Insights from a FinTech Entrepreneur

The year of collaboration. That’s what 2016 could have been called in the FinTech space, with several FinServ incumbents forging partnerships with FinTech startups. Specifically in the wealth management space, several incumbents announced their own automated investment advice platforms by partnering with or acquiring “robo-advisors”. Due to this and other reasons (e.g., higher CAC), more and more WealthTech firms are pivoting to a B2B strategy.

Last year, I had the pleasure of listening to Bo Lu, CEO of FutureAdvisor, talk about what it takes for a Wealth Management institution to go digital. Based on his/FutureAdvisor’s experience, he spoke about focusing on six areas: Products and User Experience, Implementation Expertise, Technology Strategy and Customization, Customer Acquisition and Adoption, Compliance Resources and Reputational Risk. As someone who had worked both in business and technology groups of large Broker-Dealer organizations, his messages resonated with me.

That led me to seek out answers to a different side of the same (proverbial) coin: what does it take to build an effective B2B WealthTech company?

And so, I reached out to a promising WealthTech startup I’d come across in 2016. They had recently pivoted to a B2B strategy and were gaining traction: Polly Portfolio.

Since their pivot from B2B to B2B, Polly Portfolio has had several discussions with challenger brands and has completed a prelaunch deployment. They are also doing POC (Proof of Concept) for enterprise deployments with a couple globally recognized financial brands. Further, they are working on a new SaaS product for individual advisor use – to be made available in February 2017.

Jasen Yang, Founder and CEO of Polly Portfolio, was kind enough of share his insights and learnings on their journey so far. He himself comes from the Asset Management industry. You can learn about Polly Portfolio’s genesis, their products and how they are different from a robo-advisor here. But since they first caught my eye with a solution that enabled meaningful and effective advisor-client conversations in real time, I am including a snippet on that conversation below.

Jasen’s insights on several different topics and areas are relevant to FinTech entrepreneurs looking to build effective B2B solutions, irrespective of the sector. Sharing some of them here:

On Marketing to Enterprises:

Jasen talked about the need to find people within the organization who already see the problem like you do. But he also mentioned that, sometimes, companies you can really help may not have that ‘appropriate’ person at the other end. Listen to that segment below

 

On Innovativeness vs. Simplicity:

If your solution is highly innovative it may ‘sound’ good, but will it be adopted – especially in a complex enterprise setup? Jasen responded to existing tension in the B2B marketplace in this below segment:

On developing a Compliance and Audit-friendly B2B Solution:

Financial Services is highly regulated. Further, it is an industry where compliance practices also differ from one Financial Institution to another. How do to you develop a solution that satisfies a wide range of compliance processes. And especially when your solution uses Machine Learning, which is considered a “blackbox,” how do you make it for audit-friendly? You do that by providing transparency and with appropriate product design, explained Jasen:

 

On ‘understanding’ your audience and building a team:

In his advice for aspiring B2B entrepreneurs, Jasen provided vital insights on identifying and understanding one’s audience. You can watch it here:

 

If you are a WealthTech or wealth management professional/ enthusiast, you may find these two additional segments relevant:

On including Client’s Subjective Opinion in wealthtech solutions (Hint: It is about ‘listening’)

On areas that are underestimated/ underexplored by current wealthtech solutions:

 

I’m sure several B2B FinTech entreprenuers across the world will find Jasen’s insights and learnings inspiring and useful. Looking forward to seeing more effective B2B solutions that propel FinServ-FinTech collaborations in 2017!

 

Note: You can find all the segments of this interview on this YouTube Playlist –https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdzt6Lv1RR3oad8QiZcpHrn9cxnd2xUoZ